This will be a short update on our May 6th session. Admin was not yet ready to give us a response to our Article 9 language (Appointments). CGE was not yet ready to give Admin Article 31 language (Child Care) that would bolster existing support.
We continued to discuss Article 28 (Health Insurance). The CGE bargaining team was able to quickly turn around the language Admin gave us last session and submitted another proposal. Our conversation first focused on paying for summer coverage. After some discussion about the logistics, we now understand that this will (unsurprisingly) be a topic of further discussion as we hammer out this Article’s final language. We maintain strong interest in turning summer insurance into an automatic process for graduate employees, even if they aren’t working over summer. Of course, you would be freely able to opt-out of the insurance if you won’t need it.
After a caucus, we turned to a few Article 11 (Salary) questions. At the General Membership Meeting, we got some feedback about the SEVIS and Visa fee reimbursement, and asked Admin where the funding for this would potentially come from. They said they would be able to offer more insight at a later session. CGE is also interested in knowing how the 0.3 FTE increase will impact departments with less funding. We asked Admin to give us an idea on which departments might get support from the University and which departments would have to make the adjustments without assistance. One of the Admin members mentioned that Liberal Arts, Education, and Grad School were just some of the departments most likely to receive help from OSU.
Finally, we talked about the summer employment hour requirement. If you are a graduate student, you have to take at least 3 credit hours to be able to work on your research. BUT, if you are a graduate employee on an assistantship, you are required to take 9 credit hours! Looking to our cousins in Eugene, the University of Oregon has a graduate assistantship option without an hours requirement (allowing the grad employee to work more than 0.49 FTE). Or, if the grad employee wants to take classes, they have a tuition remission for up to 16 hours, and can work their 0.49 FTE assistantship (more on this below). OSU’s 9-hour requirement is a lot compared to other universities. Often, grad employees who are on assistantship throughout the academic year are shifted to hourly work during the summer, which does not come with a tuition remission. Departments may reimburse grad employees for the tuition costs through increased pay, but both sides lose money to taxes. Lowering the credit requirement to 3 hours will 1) make summer assistantships more attractive to more departments, and 2) allow graduate employees to take a more appropriate summer course load.
Back to the summer tuition remission. CGE feels strongly that requiring hourly grad employees to pay for 3 credit hours undermines the academic-year remission. Again, University of Oregon has the best of both worlds here: a grad is eligible for summer tuition remission if they have a summer assistantship, or if they had an assistantship in at least two previous terms in the academic year. You can even get a tuition remission if you plan on graduating in summer (as long as you meet the requirements)! We expect to have a deeper conversation about this in the coming sessions.
So there’s your “short” update, next time we’ll be discussing office health and safety (Articles 10 and 25), and union rights (Article 8)!
Remaining Bargaining Dates:
Friday, May 13
Monday, May 16
Friday, May 20
Monday, May 23
Friday, May 27
Friday, June 3
All sessions are 2:15-4:00 PM in the McLean Room of Westminster House (101 NW 23rd).